Congress rejects corruption charge against Brazilian President Michel Temer

Congress rejects corruption charges over bribery, saving Temer from Supreme Court trial that could have seen him ousted.

Opposition deputies hold a suitcase with fake money before the vote in congress (Adriano Machado for Reuters)
Opposition deputies hold a suitcase with fake money before the vote in congress (Adriano Machado for Reuters)

Brazil's lower house of congress voted on Wednesday to reject a corruption charge against President Michel Temer for allegedly taking bribes, saving him from facing a possible Supreme Court trial that could have ousted him from office.

At least 172 of the 513 members of the lower Chamber of Deputies had voted by late Wednesday against putting Temer on trial for allegedly orchestrating a scheme to line his own pockets with millions of dollars in illicit payments.

Temer won enough ballots to keep the opposition from gaining the two-thirds of the vote - or 342 votes - required to move the corruption case forward to the top court. A final tally was expected later on Wednesday night.

The strong show of support for Temer raised the prospects that he can now move ahead with controversial economic reforms in an economy emerging from recession.

Al Jazeera reported that Temer was always confident he would win the vote and had pledged more than $1bn of government funds for projects to various members of congress to ensure their vote.

"So he is no doubt is breathing a sigh of relief - for now at least," said Al Jazeera's Daniel Schweimler.

But Temer is widely expected to face more corruption charges, particularly over the Panama paper scandal, in the coming weeks, which would again put his presidency at stake.

Armando Castelar, a professor of economics at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, told Al Jazeera that, although Temer's approval ratings are very low, the vote showed his strength in congress. He added that Temer would now be able to return to his controversial economic agenda.

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